WBD 016 - Interview with Roger Ver
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Roger Ver is, without doubt, one of the most controversial people within the Crypto community. His fork of Bitcoin, use of the Bitcoin.com domain and his stock answers about honouring the original Satoshi White Paper have rightfully opened him up to questioning.
Sadly, tribal factions have created a toxic mix of fighting and abuse threatening a free and open debate. What some believe is fair and open criticism has led to social intimidation where the act of creating content is now objected to, even before the content has been seen or heard.
Abuse, false accusations and overt pressure from key personalities in the Crypto community has made me question who I should interview, how I should conduct an interview and the opinions I should form.
The same people who want censorship-free money are happy to intimidate free thought.
I have also faced contradictory accusations that if you interview a scammer, you are only doing it to gain followers and because you interviewed Roger, you will lose a lot of respect and followers.
Well, which is it?
It is neither, I appreciate every follower I have, and yes, I want to grow my followers and the reach of my podcast but I do my interviews whether or not this will lead to a net gain or loss.
In preparing the intro for the episode, and even writing this, I am sat here questioning my free thought. There is a nervousness that if I am open about my experience with Roger that the Bitcoin community will ostracise me, I’ll be hung out to dry as a heathen, a turncoat, a fucking big blocker.
Hang the bastard!
Going into my interview with Roger, I was firmly in the small block camp, but in preparing my interview, I wanted to be as impartial as I could. Surely there are things we can learn from everyone, and if we learn nothing new, we lost nothing trying.
Still, nothing about my experience with Roger convinced me that big blocks are the solution to Bitcoin scaling, but plenty of my experience with him confirmed for me that I was right to go and see him.
I liked Roger, there I said it, I liked your villain!
But the Roger I liked was the guy I met off camera, the relaxed Roger who wasn’t defending the same questions with the same answers. It was the Roger I discussed the plight of Ross Ulbricht with, the Roger who talked about the ideals of freedom from the state, the Roger who sat back with his arms behind his head, not on the edge of his seat, ready to attack.
The only way I got to know this Roger was by flying halfway around the world to meet him, by spending time with him either side of the interview and being respectful to him. Something many of you reading this won't get to experience because all you see is Bitcoin Cash Roger, rage quitting with a middle finger to John Carvalho or talking about dying babies at Deconomy.
And even writing the above, I can picture the responses, this is how people like Roger work, they trick you with being nice and then trap you. The social intimidation is real, the fear of what how people will react when I say, yeah, you know what, he’s alright, is real.
In my short, very amateur career as a 'journalist', I am doing things my way. I am not out there trophy hunting for a middle finger meme so that a few anonymous cartoon frogs and can Twitter high five me and say well done Pete, fuck Roger!
Firstly I do this for me, to learn and develop myself. Secondly, I do this for the people who want to hear it. Lastly, I do it for those who think I shouldn't. I do it for everyone, whatever your opinion. And if from this interview we all learn something new, or we see a new angle then great. If we learn nothing new, then at least I tried.
I certainly learned new things; I saw a bitter, competitive businessman who will stop at nothing to achieve what he believes is Satoshi's vision. I saw someone struggling to admit his flaws and thus working in a way which is counterproductive to his own goals.
This is the second time, I have been attacked for interviewing a guest on my podcast. The tribal nature of Bitcoin wreaks of control, built on the shoulders of a libertarian ideal. You are either with us or against us. If you’re even entertaining the thoughts of them you’re against us. If you talk to them you’re against us. If you can also remotely see their point on any issue, you are against us.
And if you are against us, we will hang you out to dry; we will humiliate you, we will block you, we will ostracise you, we will fucking crush you.
Whether you think I am a journalist or not, whether you like my work or not, shouldn’t we be open to free dialogue?
I will always stand up for the freedom and choice of interviewing whoever I like. I will always try and create my interviews in a way which offer something new.
What I will never stand for is intimidation, the subtle coercion of being accused of giving frauds a platform. The same people who watch and applaud Loius Theroux interview murderers, Nazis and pimps. Oh but that’s okay, Louis is on the TV and famous, you’re just a shitty little podcast.
When we pressure the content creators into a particular narrative or if our journalists are scared to give an opinion which may be contrary to the public consensus, we are creating control and removing freedom.
Do not confuse criticism with intimidation. Censorship is a broad and a slippery slope.
Whether you agree with Roger or like Bitcoin Cash or not, it is part of our ecosystem and is one of only four coins listed on Coinbase. It is legitimised by the open source nature of our ecosystem and the lack of brand protection. We might not like, I don’t too, but those are the rules, or the lack of rules we have.
But Bitcoin Cash doesn’t scale unless it becomes more centralised, which I do find concerning and my primary issue with it. The UASF led by Luke Dash Jr protected Bitcoin from the corporate handover to the DCG, we should protect this with all we can. But there are intelligent people on both sides of the scaling debate. There are leaders in Bitcoin who have questions about the Lightning Network, I see some quote three years before it becomes usable, others agreeing that it has many challenges to overcome.
Sadly, it has become Bitcoin treason even to challenge LN, or suggest other ideas. I mean really, would it have been such a big deal to increase the block size to 2MB an alleviate the pressure on the network while layer 2 technologies are developed? I understand the long-term need to be efficient with block use, and I know that there will come a time where fees need to replace block rewards to ensure that mining is profitable. But right now we have use cases which can be supported.
I am sure we can all agree that we want low fees and fast transactions, who wouldn’t? But when fees are expensive, and transactions slow, we kill off uses cases, uses cases which can grow adoption. We kill BTC a usable currency for those in failed states who rely on it, and we kill it for low price transactions. And what a shame, why can’t we have both?
When I was with Roger, he got me to set up a Bitcoin Cash wallet and sent me a dollar, and it was pretty much instant. I won’t lie, I was impressed, that would be much better than the 2-6 hours I currently wait for Bitcoin transactions when I am sending money to an exchange.
As cool as it was, I still won’t use it, for the same reason I don’t use Litecoin, XRP or Digibyte. My currency is Bitcoin, and I’m sticking with it. Still, I will not stand for social intimidation for who I should and shouldn’t have on my podcast.
Challenge the content, not the existence of the content.
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